...FAA Butts Out, For Now...

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The bill essentially sets the regulatory parameters on commercial space ventures for the FAA for the next eight years. Under the legislation, the FAA would primarily be interested in protecting the "uninvolved public" and the public interest. During the eight years, the FAA can only implement regulations designed to protect crew and passengers if there are serious accidents or close calls. After the eight years are up, the "barnstorming" will presumably be over and the FAA will be able to draw up regs that reflect the lessons learned (hopefully without a big body count) during the experimentation. During House debate last month, some Democrat members opposed what they termed a "tombstone mentality" and wanted more safety regs built into the legislation. Proponents of the bill argued that too much regulation would hamstring the development of the industry and scare away potential investors. Muncy said the FAA and the bill's congressional backers deserve credit for taking the leap of faith. "Congress is clearly saying that it doesn't want to be a barrier," he said. "It wants to open doors and fly the American public into space."